The Hater's Guide to the NFL Playoffs, Divisional Round
So much to hate!
Last weekend's playoff games were a veritable smorgasbord of NFL-style hatred. Joe Webb alone could have filled an entire columns worth of snarky banter.
If you added in Mike Shanahan's stupidity, Ray Lewis' dancing and referee errors, you would've rivaled James Joyce's Ulysses both in length and amount of alcohol consumed while writing it.
This weekend, with the playoff chaff out of the way (lookin' at you DeAngelo Hall), maybe we can get down to some real football. What's that? The Ravens are still in the playoffs? What the ----? Texans too, huh?
For readers who are new around these parts, here's the gist of the Hater's Guide. I hate your team. Which team? Your team...every team. I'm not really fond of you either. I don't play favorites. I'm picking every team to lose this weekend...every weekend.
Got it? If not, just read this again; sound out the words. Maybe you could have someone help you with the bigger words.
On to the hate!
Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos
Ray Lewis comes bounding out of the tunnel to start his trademark pregame squirrel dance and is pelted with food wrappers, empty drink cups and the occasional dollar bill from a couple of weird-looking drunk guys.
"Wait, we're not home this week?"
The Ravens look around the stadium at the hostile (well, more like indifferent) Broncos crowd, and the momentum, energy and general enthusiasm of last week fades away.
Peyton Manning proceeds to shred them for whatever the playoff passing record is and then some.
Manning walks into the Broncos locker room, causing heads to turn along the way. Belly hanging out of the front of his shirt, crack showing a little in the back, shirt buttons busting at the seams, he sets a pile of Papa John's new five-sausage pizzas on the table.
"You gotta try these, guys," Manning says. "The chorizo is out of this world! In fact, no, wait till you see what's next!"
Manning runs (well, toddles) out of the room and comes back with a couple of 40s of Steel Reserve. "This just puts it over the top. I've been eating these all weekend. This is the life."
A bloated and gassy Manning (no, not Archie) passes for about a dozen yards against the Ravens defense but breaks the Donovan McNabb-held record for most times puking on a playoff field.
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Green Bay Packers
Coach Mike McCarthy waits on an empty team bus for 20 minutes before heading back into the hotel to find out where in the world his players are. After searching high and low, he finds Aaron Rodgers trying to hide behind one of the decorative fake plants in the lobby.
"What in the world is going on, Aaron?"
"We're not playing today, coach. If we play, we have to go back to Green Bay afterward. Do you know how cold it is there? I don't. My thermometer broke around the same time my balls froze off. No, literally, clean off. Do you have any idea what frozen-ball reattachment costs?"
So, with the entire team boycotting the game, the Packers lose 70-2—Colin Kaepernick promises he'll work out the kinks on that option pitch.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are down by a field goal at halftime when Jim Harbaugh walks into the locker room and declares, "We're going with the hot hand at quarterback!"
"Eff yeah!" Alex Smith screams!
"Sit down, Alex!" Harbaugh replies. "I certainly didn't mean you. I was watching some of these, whattdya kids call em? Oh yeah, trick-shot videos on the YouTubes. Someone sent me the link. Did you know you can see my Saved By The Bell appearance on there? The Internet, ha, what will they think of next?"
Some random 18-year-old kid starts the second half and actually manages to pass for a couple hundred yards against the Packers defense. But a last-second Hail Mary attempt falls short after it bounces off of the upright, through a flaming hula hoop, off of a moving tractor and lands in a Dixie Cup full of oatmeal.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons
Russell Wilson goes to take the first snap of the game, but he stops. He walks over to the sideline and tells Pete Carroll, "Coach, I'm not feeling it today. I saw what happened last weekend to RGIII. After a week of maxing out my 401K and trying to get Lloyd's of London to insure my ACLs, I just don't think I can put myself in harm's way like that again."
"I'm not Mike Shanahan," Carroll replies.
Wilson goes out and has a fantastic game, but a costly delay-of-game penalty due to that lost time dooms the Seahawks.
Down by a couple of touchdowns, the Falcons crowd storms the field and starts tearing down the goal posts. Chants of "13-3! 13-3!" fill the dome as play is stopped and the game is eventually forfeited. Victory parades (read: riots) go on throughout the city for days before anyone can figure out what actually happened.
One fan explained, "We figured that if we just keep repeating the team's record to people, they won't actually watch the games and realize how many teams are better than us...13-3, baby!"
Thousands would show up, perplexed, to an empty stadium the next week for the conference championship game. Decades later, anthropologists will study these moments as the first known incident of clinical "mass delusion."
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
The Texans come out for pregame warmups, but they aren't wearing any pads—just their letterman jackets, tight jeans and smiles. What follows is a cross between West Side Story, Grease and the Chippendales' sketch from Saturday Night Live.
That's it. Then they left.
Guess they remembered what happened the last time they tried to play a football game in New England.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady checks his calendar before the game. "Oh, really, it's the Super Bowl today? Really? Huh, I could've sworn it was still a few weeks away. But, no, sure enough, I crossed out all those days before it. Guess it's time for my annual collapse."
Sixteen sacks and a dozen interceptions later, the Patriots are losers. Brady then throws on a "2012 AFC champs" shirt that confuses everyone.
Later, Matt Schaub and Arian Foster will be seen high-fiving, but they will not be able to explain what they're doing with that Sharpie or why a half-eaten vegan burger was found in Brady's locker.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.